A world champion takes to the Ally Pally stage in the PDC World Championship first round.

Like Luke Humphries, Mikuru Suzuki has claimed a world title, but has to grab a win to reach the second round. Her first ever PDC World Championship first round opponent will be James Richardson. This tie follows on from Andy Boulton versus Danny Baggish – which we looked at earlier today, as part of the 32 first round previews. After the full schedule? Come right this way.

Facts and figures

Match time/date: 20:00, December 15

Head-to-head record: First meeting

Previous meeting: N/A

Best major performance this season: Last 64, Players Championship Finals (Richardson); Group Stage, Grand Slam of Darts (Suzuki)

Previous PDC World Championship appearances: Richardson 3, Suzuki 0

Best PDC World Championship performance: Last 16, 2018 (Richardson); N/A (Suzuki)

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Preview

Glen Durrant’s talking about unifying the world titles; what if Mikuru Suzuki beats him to it? OK, so maybe that would truly be her fulfilling her nickname of ‘The Miracle’. But in any case, it’s definitely good to see the women’s world champion at the Ally Pally again. Lisa Ashton filled that role last year, and started incredibly. Can Suzuki go a step further? She has some good experience from the Asian Tour and the Grand Slam to add to many years in the women’s game.

At the Grand Slam, Suzuki was certainly consistent, averaging 84 and 85 in her three games. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to claim any points against Gerwyn Price, Robert Thornton or Dimitri van den Bergh. Suzuki knows she can play much better than she did in Wolverhampton. The Japanese ace will have been practising hard to be ready for her Ally Pally debut. No matter how she does here, it’ll be an excellent warm-up for the 37-year-old’s own World Championship title defence.

James Richardson is responsible for one of the biggest World Championship shocks ever, when he thrashed Raymond van Barneveld seven years ago. A couple of years, he toppled seeds Kim Huybrechts and Alan Norris en route to the Last 16. But majors haven’t been his friend this year. At the Players Championship Finals and UK Open, he was dumped out comprehensibly by Jose de Sousa and Steve Lennon respectively – both at the first hurdle.

If he can disappoint Suzuki – and, let’s face it, almost all of the Ally Pally crowd – Richardson would play John Henderson in round two.

Prediction

Real talk here – any BDO player entering the lion’s den of the PDC World Championship would face an uphill battle, male or female. We’re still at the stage where there’s no expectation that a female player will win a match. There are some unfortunate individuals rooting against it. Suzuki silencing them would be superb. But Richardson has the competitive edge of playing with the cream of the darting crop all year. James Richardson 3-1 Mikuru Suzuki.

Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics

Photo: Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics

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Author: Ed McCosh